Meeting in July, The General Convention of the Episcopal Church considered and declined to proceed with a revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Instead, the Convention authorized for trial use a set of “expansive-language liturgies” for what we now know as Eucharistic Prayers A, B, and D. The approved use of these liturgies was left to the discretion of each bishop in his or her own diocese, and all diocese were urged “to create a liturgical commission to collect, reflect, teach and share these resources with” a task force formed by Convention. Our bishop has approved the use of these prayers as of the First Sunday in Advent (this past Sunday).
I would like us to follow the request of The General Convention and give these liturgies a try here at St. Michael’s. I propose that we do so for the season following The Epiphany, beginning January 13 and going until the last Sunday before Lent, March 3. As the liturgies are only written in Rite II, we would use them only at the 10:30 service. Our 8:00 Rite I service will remain unchanged.
I know the mention of “trial liturgies” can ignite strong feelings, both positive and negative, so let me lay out the approach I want to take. First of all, the point of these trials is not to decide if we want to use them long term at St. Michael’s but to use them for a limited time, to pray them faithfully, and see how they “sit” with us. We may find them beautiful and effective means of encountering and worshipping the living God; we may not. Whichever we decide, I’d like us to provide some solid, constructive feedback to the commission about our experience. To do that means that we need to give them a fair shake.
To help us accomplish this goal, we will be taking a close look at the liturgy we’re going to be using for Epiphany season during the Rector’s Forum on Sunday mornings, starting this Sunday. There are many options provided, and I want your input on what we should use and when. We need honest opinions and feedback; it’s okay not to like the trial liturgies, but we need to be able to say what we don’t like about them and why. We also may find we like parts of them but not others. Please remember, this is only for a few weeks; come Lent, we will go back to our Prayer Book for Sunday worship at both services.
We will be producing booklets with the full Sunday liturgies for our use. You won’t have to try to memorize anything or flip back and forth through extra pages trying to find our place in the service. I promise we will make this as seamless and easy as we can. I hope you’ll take part and help produce our report for the diocesan liturgical commission.